Quod siquis vera vitam ratione gubernet,
divitiae grandes homini sunt vivere parvo
aequo animo; neque enim est umquam penuria parvi.
But if you’d steer your life by a philosophy that’s true,
The way to be the wealthiest of men is to eschew
High living, and be contented in the mind – for there has never
Been a poverty of modest means.
Titus Lucretius Carus – de Rerum Natura
By what means do we, in our current capitalist paradigm, consider money to be such a meager and humble commodity that it in and of itself not only represents faultlessly but equates exactly to our value as sentient human beings? Has acquisition and attainment alone ever conflated to unadulterated happiness and pure altruism? When you remove the faculty of money, a tool of equation, from the all too abused mode of individuality sometimes termed as self-maximization, what is left within the self that is of any conscionable nature that would be remotely considered conducive to morally acceptable behavior to our brothers and sisters? Nothing, for the widespread assertion that the money sequence of value either conflates or represents the life sequence of value is entirely arbitrary and false. There could be no other grandiose misrepresentation of our true nature than to attempt to quantify and dignify it as gross domestic product.
To this end all business operates tirelessly and endlessly. Cyclical consumption and the polymorphic modes that both individuals (consumers) and even businesses themselves (consumers/producers) operate in keep in check carefully the assurance that the repetition is not broken. Individuals as employees will sell their time to an employer to produce the goods that the employer then sells to other individuals or businesses, consumers, thus it flows onward. So the flow goes with a perceived elegance that just can’t be described as anything other than natural. So natural, in fact, that it would be utter folly to think that it could be wrong. How, when one is part of a society where abundance is aplenty, regardless if it’s to be maintained synthetically, and wealth, even though partitioned unfairly, maintains the decadence that we expect to grant us our little hovels with our creature comforts so that we’ll just be content with our meager rewards, would anyone then even think about how this could maybe, just maybe, be all wrong?
So sick is our society that we have managed to profiteer the human themselves and the methods by which we’re herded, sometimes all too tacitly. Privately held incarceration facilities trade investments on the Stock Market where its value will fluctuate based on the inmate population. Insurance agencies attempt to register infants, through appeals to their parents, into life insurance policies that not only place a dollar value on that life that matures as the child does, much in the same way as a Money Market, CD, or Savings Account, so that in the event of an untimely death, someone reaps some reward from it. The same agencies also offer up the same insurances for elderly persons who, on their last hurrah, might as well give something a little extra to not just the families but to the agency and its CEO and board members. Young workers in all industries are consistently hounded about investing in retirement funds, be it a 401(k) or an IRA, where they’re encouraged to invest more and more of their money, placing immediate undue hardship on them and their families, all for the idea that someday they’ll be worth something. One ad from Fidelity Investments for such a policy is titled “Because someday, I’ll be the perfect vintage.”
In agreement we simply nod our heads and don’t worry about it as we sulk on back to the cave. Your children are fed, your lights are still on, your clothes are clean, your lawn is cut, your car is full of gasoline, your bills are paid (on time) – why trouble yourself with anything else?
Slowly but surely, we are killing our planet to meet these seemingly endless consumer-driven, yet contrived, requirements. As the poles begin their steady yet inevitable melt away to liquid form, and our atmosphere is congested with carbon emissions from wildly inefficient means of travel, and our brothers and sisters who are not worth anything are left to rot away tucked in the back alleys and abandoned scrap yards so we don’t have to see them; they won’t be a problem that way, and our basic requirements for life are becoming more scarce and by reason of overpopulation synthetic, what excuse do you have now to say that you can’t trouble yourself with anything else? What can you say to your brothers and sisters who die daily because they can’t get food or water because they can’t afford it? How do you explain that this is normal to your children, and that the only way to be happy and successful in life is to simply make money? What made you not think, for one second, that competition is not the only way to live? How then do you not register that you, implicitly or explicitly, equate your measure of success and altruism in dollars and also that of your children and tell them to continue to do the same thing?
The marks that we leave behind now will be the ones that our children have to deal with. They will be responsible for carrying our torches into the future, for doing so within the context that we set for them, and we are most of us wildly irresponsible in thinking that continuing this mode of valuing life is anything solid enough to sustain life at all, or even a future for that matter. Change has to start now, and start with you.